McKeesport bike shop owner encourages helmets, 'pre-check'
Helmets, gloves, handlebar mirrors and reflective clothing are just a few items used by cyclists along the Great Allegheny Passage and other bike trails to help make their trip a safe one.
“I think there's a pre-check before you go out and ride,” said Mike Kostyzak, owner of Zak's Bike Shop in McKeesport.
“First thing you want to do is check your tires, obviously. You don't want to be limping around on a low or flat tire.”
Helmets are required for riders age 12 and younger, but not a requirement for adults.
“I think any time that you get on a bike is the right time to get a helmet on your head,” Kostyzak said.
“Anything can happen. You don't have to be going fast. All it takes is the wrong fall and you can be in a lot of trouble. For kids just starting you might even want to invest in knee pads, elbow pads, stuff like that.”
Kostyzak said experienced riders older than 10 may not need extra pads.
“If they're an inexperienced rider, by all means protect them as much as you can in the event that they do crash,” he said.
Choosing the type of bike to ride also has a great impact on the trip.
“Bikes are purpose-built,” said Kostyzak.
“Mountain bikes are for up in the woods, jumping over tree stumps and whatnot. Road bikes are exclusive to the road and pavement. That's all you're going to do on this bike.”
Kostyzak recommends cruiser bikes for bike trail trips shorter than 12 miles, and hybrid bikes for longer commutes.
Cruiser bikes are designed mainly for comfort, have an upright riding position, plush suspension, and roughly a 26-inch tire size.
Hybrid bikes have a frame designed for comfort and efficient pedaling, adjustable components for upright comfort or a more speed-oriented position, lighter components than cruiser bikes, and lighter tires to roll more easily on pavement for easier acceleration and climbing.
Most hybrid bike frames are made of lightweight aluminum or steel. Cruisers are generally heavier than hybrids.
Jerry Goldman of Elgin, Ill. and Gary Rose of Columbia, Ky. each wore helmets, sunglasses and bright colored shirts when they traveled along the trail in McKeesport.
They said paying attention to your surroundings and alerting other bikers of your presence helps with the safety aspect of riding.
“Follow the rules of the road,” said Goldman.
“You've got to keep your distance from the bike in front of you,” said Rose.
Long trips also provide maintenance and nutritional challenges for cyclists. Many bikers have tools, water bottles and food tucked into holders.
“You're going to want a means of carrying some things,” Kostyzak said.
“You're going to need at bare minimum a rear rack, a bike truck, pannier bags, a couple of spare tubes if you've got any sense about you. A repair kit, possibly some tire boots, a multi-tool.”
Other recommended items are tire levers, a spoke wrench, spare spokes, a horn or some means to signal other riders, tire pump, spare brake cables and master link for chains, and fenders for tires.
“If you get caught in a good rain storm and don't have any fenders, you'll wish you weren't there at all,” said Kostyzak.
Travelers also should plan ahead for long trips and figure out where to access water and other supplies along the way.
Transporting a bike to and from a trail also is important. People can use mounted racks, hitch-style racks or put it in the back seat of a car or bed of a truck.
Kostyzak recommended using a hitch-style rack for more than two bikes.
“It's really hard to get a four-bike rack that's strapped to the car,” he said.
“The further out that those bikes hang the more leverage you lose on a strap style. If it's a group more than three, I'd opt for a hitch-style rack and a couple of bungee cords to make sure they're not swinging and bobbing. You want to protect your investment.”
Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Vigil marks 6-year anniversary of Clairton coach’s death
- Steel Valley board denies teachers union restroom grievance
- Hearing delayed in North Versailles attempted homicide case
- Police arrest suspect in fatal Wilmerding shooting
- West Mifflin Area to sue for tuition reimbursement
- Mon-Yough area candidates bumped off ballots vow to fight on
- McKeesport Area consolidates administration jobs
- Clairton schools honor alumni in mentoring program
- Wrestling up-and-comers to strut their stuff at PWX Wrestleplex
- 5th candidate in race for District 5-2-11 judge; nomination challenges to be heard
- Historian to share women’s tales of World War II steel mill work in McKeesport